Reading Remediation - One Ingredient for Success

August 16, 2016



“It is essential to begin a remedial program at a level, and with specific tasks that are easy enough so that successful performance is virtually certain.” (Harris & Sipay, 1980)

That  quote was from nearly 40 years ago!

I’ve lately had to mine some old texts on reading for different information. It’s quite fun to come upon nuggets of truth like the one above that stand the test of time. Over blogs to come, I thought I would share them with you, as I would like to highlight their ongoing relevance. With all of the modern research and updates in the field, the old masters can still guide us and inform our practice.

Related to the quote above, let’s look at reading remediation. Orton-Gillingham (O-G)methods are currently quite popular. For years, I have seen them (or methods related to O-G) in action for kids struggling in reading and can testify to the positive impact that they can have in overcoming reading problems.

One essential reason that they work is that these methods start a child at a level that is “easy enough” with specific tasks so that successful performance is virtually certain.”

Good remedial programs meet kids where they are developmentally. To borrow an image, if the child’s upper body strength allows him/her to lift ten pound weights, then asking to lift 20 pound weights because that’s what most kids his/her age can do, is clearly not in the child’s interest. Doing so will lead to a sense of frustration, anguish, frustration and, ultiamtely, shutting-down.

With good remediation there is almost something magical that takes place. Not only do skills improve, but the child starts to get a personal battery charge, an infusion of motivation. In the interaction between remedial tutor/teacher/learning therapist and the child a sense of personal competence grows in the interaction.

Struggling children are always sensing that they are running up hill, while others are on a flat surface. This sense of ongoing frustration needs to be addressed.  With remedial tutoring, which is often done after school, there needs to be an emotional “buy in” for the child to have sufficient motivation and progress.  Without the “buy-in” little can take place

Takeaway Point
Using the quote above as a jumping off, if the child can lift ten pounds, start them with five. Make it easy, fun and light, especially in the initial stages of remediation.

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All comments (4)
  • Laurie Windsor
    August 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Words of wisdom!!!

  • Jeanne Voelker
    August 19, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Absolutely! I'm currently teaching an ADHD student who will enter grade 4 very soon. He came for tutoring when he was in grade 1, […] Read MoreAbsolutely! I'm currently teaching an ADHD student who will enter grade 4 very soon. He came for tutoring when he was in grade 1, so when he returned this summer, he wanted to use the same materials at the same level! At first, I said, "No, we don't need to read the rebus stories because that's first-grade work." Then, I realized that he wanted to look back, just as children like to view their baby albums. Additionally, he may have a fear of being thrown into a pool beyond his depth. So we read a rebus story and we played "Arthur's Wacky Word Game," (building sentences with nouns, verbs, adjectives, and conjunctions.) Now, we have moved on to the familiar Explode the Code series, but at a higher level, and we have begun Book A of Diana Hanbury King's Writing Skills. Thank you for this recommendation! I also read giant stories to him. He needs to know I firmly support him as we take baby steps toward paragraph writing. Read Less

    • Richard Selznick, Ph.D.
      @Jeanne Voelker
      August 24, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      Thanks, Jeanne. Nice story. I so value that you and I are almost always on the same page when it comes to these […] Read MoreThanks, Jeanne. Nice story. I so value that you and I are almost always on the same page when it comes to these issues. I find it very validating! Hope you are well. Read Less


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